It’s never easy to be on a losing team. Sometimes, the feeling of the world being against you brings out the worst in people. It is particularly true in politics. Campaigns tend to dig into the nastier side of human nature when victory appears to be slipping away. And that’s what we’re seeing from the Democrats in the last few weeks before Nov. 4th.
While the numbers vary slightly depending on the poll, Republicans appear set to win a majority in congress. This is has led a few Democrats to start playing dirty politics in their races—specifically about race. In 2014, during the term of an Africa-American president, losing liberals have decided that now would be a good time to pull out a favorite slander of the opposing party: the dreaded “R” word.
Democratic Senator Landrieu is trailing her Republican opponent by 3 to 7 points. To boost her visibility, she did an exclusive interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd. When asked why Obama had a hard time gaining votes in Louisiana, she gave a smart answer: drilling. But instead of sticking to a legitimate answer she then moved on to racism (and sexism for good measure), encompassing the entire state in her lament. The comments she made have already gone viral, accompanied by outrage.
But Louisiana is not the only election stooping to race-baiting. Other states have used references to the Ferguson tragedy to frighten African-Americans into polling booths. In Georgia, flyers are targeting African-American voters that look like this.
Maryland is attempting a similar tactic, using fliers aimed at voters of a certain skin tone, implying that segregation will return if constituents don’t re-elect Governor Anthony Brown, an African-American.
I asked John Scott, Southern Regional Vice Chairman at the Young Republican National Federation what he thought of these race-baiting games that Democrats were using in the South. He explained these strategies show, “the lack of respect and, frankly, true colors that Democrats have when it comes to minorities.” Scott when on to say, “To turn out minorities? They cry racism. Women? Sexism. Gay community? Homophobia. Democrats? Threats of Republican-led impeachment. Democratic leaders are desperate and are inducing fear in otherwise good people. This is the type of political incitement that should be villainized.” Scott has a point, all of these sensitive words have been thrown around leading up to November by Democrats in losing districts.
If anyone has insight into this situation it is Governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal (whose parents emigrated from India). He called the race-based comments from Senator Landrieu desperate. “She appears to be living in a different century. Implied in her comments is the clear suggestion that President Obama and his policies are unpopular in Louisiana because of his ethnicity,” said Jindal. “That is a major insult by Senator Landrieu to the people of Louisiana, and I flatly reject it.”
State senator Elbert Guillory, an African-American and a Republican from Louisiana, has directly attacked Landrieu in the past for her lip-service to his community.
These kinds of campaigns lower the rhetoric in an election, stirring up old hostilities instead of directly addressing real issues for poor Americans (black OR white) such as unemployment, poverty, and crime. It is unfortunate that so many Democrats seem to think the only way to bring minorities out to vote is to frighten them. Jindal is right, these tactics are desperate, crude and insulting to Americans in any party or state.